Cookies, Privacy & User Data

Businesses understand the value of the data they collect about customers. Firms can predict sales trends, send out targeted advertising, and improve their products through this data. However, for consumers, data collection is a privacy invasion and a practice that can be abused easily, leading to the suspicion of many businesses. Furthermore, for data collection, web developers now use cookies to offer convenient website visits, but it’s a vulnerability to your privacy.

What are cookies?
Cookies are small files that are sent to your devices to monitor and remember specific information about you, such as your login information, details about your shopping cart, etc.

Why do companies use cookies?
Cookies let a business owner recognize users and recall their individual preferences, such as politics versus sports news. They’re also used to customize advertising to personalize user sessions. Moreover, e-commerce businesses use cookies to track items customers previously viewed to suggest other relevant goods.

How the EU has set the stage with its groundbreaking GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requirements
GDPR regulates the way businesses manage and process personal data. After 25 May 2018, GDPR constituted the greatest change to the EU’s data protection rules in over two decades. The GDPR rules apply to the companies if they use personal data and are based in the EU. Personal data includes name, numbers, health records, location, banking, income information, cultural preferences, etc. GDPR allows firms to use personal data under certain conditions and forces them to implement additional security measures like strong encryption.

What upcoming changes we can expect in the US
The CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) passed on 1 January 2020, and industry experts considered it a landmark piece of user privacy rights legislation, as it needed specific businesses to disclose all personal data they have about a user whenever that user requests. Now, California, Colorado, and Virginia are only the tip of the iceberg. Given that multiple states have some kind of consumer privacy legislation at some stage of proposal or consideration, enterprises can expect several other states to enact new privacy legislation. This will, however, become a nightmare for marketers if we have to deal with a patchwork of laws from state to state; what, in essence, will be needed is a national consumer privacy act to make it easier for marketers to operate.

Marketers should focus on cookieless targeting
As more tech companies start to eliminate 3rd party cookie tracking, advertisers must be prepared to rely more on cookieless tactics to segment and target potential audiences to provide them a personalized experience and leverage data for informed future decision-making.

Is it possible to do cookieless targeting?
The online advertising landscape has been focusing its attention mainly on cookie-based targeting. However, advances in AI and machine learning have opened up numerous opportunities for intelligent targeting, which doesn’t require user-profiling and is privacy-friendly. One way to do this is contextual targeting, which provides marketers the opportunity to view and react in real-time to insights acquired from live content consumption. This dynamic data will help target and scale campaigns just as efficiently as a cookie-based targeting method.

What are Consumer Responsibilities?
Cybercrime is a huge business; therefore, as a consumer, it’s essential to learn about the data organizations collect about you and how they use the data to earn revenue (in many cases, they sell and share your data with 3rd party companies which you may be unaware of the relationship and scope of the data-sharing agreements).

Moreover, to limit tracking – clear your cookies regularly, minimize the use of browser extensions and ad-ons, turn off cross-site tracking in your browser, and use privacy-oriented browsers and search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Brave. And when you navigate to a site and see this type of message, don’t be afraid to click ‘Manage Cookies / Do Not Sell My Personal Information to gain slight control of the amount of data being tracked about your browsing habits.

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Key Takeaways
• Consumers are wising up to the dangers of data misuse – companies can lose their audience if they fail to protect user data.
• Specific data privacy regulations differ from state to state; however, core principles include transparency, accountability, and confidentiality.
• Consumers are not off the hook and are indeed accountable for their data protection.


Rolanda Gregory ©2022
All Rights Reserved.

Not In My House

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With the Internet of Things quickly taking over, the concerns of privacy advocates are stronger and more relevant than ever.  Many tech companies and startups are developing new products that skirt the gray line between convenience and privacy violations.  With the government slow to catch up on these matters it’ll be left to consumers to dictate how much listening, watching and out-and-out spying they want in their lives – especially at home.  If you haven’t stumbled upon Presence Detection technology, read more here on soon to be innovations.

Career Moves and the 2016 Election

Vote ButtonIf your New Year’s resolution is to make a career change, especially outside of your current organization, ensure that you thoroughly do your homework.  It may not be your resume, skills or who you know that can impact your chances of landing your next gig – instead it may be how you vote and donate politically.

At first thought you may not think how or if you vote could impact your chances for receiving a job offer.  However, some organizations believe that their employees should vote and donate politically the same way that the company does.  These organizations want their staff to be fully aligned with the company’s political goals – and not what’s necessarily in the best interest of the employee.

Organizations such as Oppenheimer Funds, make the assertion in their ‘Data Privacy Statement’ when potential employees are completing the application process.  As you may know, very few people actually read the data and privacy statements – therefore, they’re unaware that not only their political affiliation, but also that of certain family members are reviewed and weighed by companies such as Oppenheimer before an offer is extended.

And it doesn’t stop once the offer is extended.  For your tenure at these types of organizations, you must obtain pre-approval of all future political contributions.  This is extended not only to you but also certain family members as well.

Oppenheimer Funds Political Contributions

Magnified view:

Oppenheimer Funds Political Contributions - Magnified

Is it fair?  No, but at the current time there are no protections for potential employees to undertake to guard against these types of pervasive actions.  Donating to the Right, Left or not at all could potentially hurt your chances of being hired.

So, if you don’t receive that new job offer you’ve been hoping for – it could have more to do with your political association than it does your actual talent.


Rolanda Gregory ©2016
All Rights Reserved.

Oversharing Online – How much is too much?

WhisperingHave you ever had a conversation with someone or even a group of people, and later thought – you know, I wish I hadn’t told them that.

Well, that same experience happens with social media. While it’s normal to want to share details of your life with others, it’s important to actively remind yourself to filter your thoughts and words. If not, you can potentially overshare information with others, which could lead to dire consequences.

This is especially true if you’re utilizing a social media website such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.

With our ‘always on’ and real-time technology world, a misspoken word or thought, can cause irreparable damage to you and others.

Before posting any information online, whether it be an image, video, tweet, posting or comment – pause and ask yourself:

  1. Can this be traced back to me? If so, it’ll be hard to deny any allegations.
  2. If my employer, government agency, professional associations, etc. see the post, image or video, would it cause embarrassment or issues? Remember that some employers and organizations have moral clauses in their contract agreements and by-laws.
  3. Am I revealing information that may be proprietary or subject to a non-disclosure? The legal issues can be tough to overcome if you’ve publicly violated a legal agreement.
  4. Did someone tell me this in confidence, and if so, would they be offended to see it posted online? This is especially important with friends and family, be careful not to share information on their behalf – especially without their prior consent. If there’s any doubt or uneasiness about what you’re posting or sending, simply don’t do it. In this case, the old adage applies, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  5. And ultimately, could this post hit me in the pocketbook and cause financial repercussions? If so, the answer is apparent, steer clear from posting the content.

While I’ve mostly focused on content published on social media websites, the same advice applies to emails and text messages. Be careful of what you email and text to others, after you hit send, you have no control as to how the information will be handled. It can be forwarded to others, posted on unsavory sites, manipulated, and many other unfathomable actions.

While social media definitely has its place in today’s society, we should remind ourselves that some aspects of our lives should remain behind closed doors.


Rolanda Gregory ©2016
All Rights Reserved.